Choices of the Heart

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Choices of the Heart
Choices of the Heart.JPG
Genre Drama
Written by John Pielmeier
Directed by Joseph Sargent
Starring Melissa Gilbert
Peter Horton
Helen Hunt
Mary McCusker
Mari Gorman
Pamela Bellwood
Patrick Cassidy
René Enríquez
Mike Farrell
Martin Sheen
Theme music composer John Rubinstein
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Sandy Gallin
John Houseman
Producer(s) David W. Rintels
Joseph Sargent
Cinematography Jorge Stahl Jr.
Editor(s) George Jay Nicholson
Running time 100 minutes
Production company(s) Katz-Gallin Productions
Half-Pint Productions
Distributor NBC
Original network NBC
Original release
  • December 5, 1983 (1983-12-05) (U.S.)

Choices of the Heart is an American award-winning television movie based on the lives of Jean Donovan, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and three American nuns who were killed in El Salvador during its Civil War.[1][2][3]


The movie is based on actual events. On March 24, 1980, Romero was killed, and three Roman Catholic nuns and a lay Catholic missionary were killed on December 2, 1980, by Salvadoran death squads, possibly funded by the United States.[3] Three of the women dedicated their lives to helping refugees and sick people for years.[4] Jean Donovan had been in El Salvador for over two years helping the children that she was so devoted to.[4] Donovan says over and over in her letters to her family in the U.S. that God brought her to El Salvador.[4] These women were raped, tortured, and killed by members of a Salvadoran death squad.[3] Attempts from the Salvadoran and American governments were made to try to cover the murders up.[3]


The production was filmed mostly in Mexico. Mike Farrell plays Robert C. White, then U.S. President Jimmy Carter's Ambassador to El Salvador, who keeps running into official interference and noncooperation in his investigation concerning the murdered women.[3] Martin Sheen appears as Matt Phelan, a Dublin priest whom Miss Donovan meets while spending her junior college year in Ireland.[3]



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